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Urinary Catheter Basics

A urologic catheter is a small tube used to drain urine from the bladder. You insert the catheter tube into your urethra to the bladder. Using a catheter intermittently is called catheterization and is recommended when the bladder doesn't empty on its own.

Catheter Sizes

Catheters are sized by French size (Fr). The French size refers to the diameter of the catheter. Typically sizes range from 5 Fr - 20 Fr. You can tell the French size of the catheter by the color of its funnel end. See chart (below) for funnel colors and French sizes. Your physician will determine which catheter French size is right for you.

Urinary Catheter French Sizes

Catheter Funnels

Funnels are often attached to catheters for various reasons. As mentioned above, they are often color-coded for easy French size identification. They are useful for better gripping of the catheter without touching the tube itself and directing the urine flow into a receptacle. Funnels are also designed to attach to drain bags, in the case that a urinal or toilet is unavailable.

Catheters don’t always come with funnel ends, however. There is an option called a luer end, which comes just like a regular catheter (same features, same insertion tip) but without the funnel, leaving the end like an open tube.

Catheter Funnel Color Reference Chart  

Catheter Lengths

There are three different lengths available for urinary catheters: male, female, and pediatrics. 

  • Male length catheters are usually 16 inches in length.
  • Female length catheters range from 6-8 inches in length. There are some instances where females prefer to use male-length catheters. 

  • Pediatric length catheters typically range from 6-12 inches in length. Women and children generally use shorter lengths because of their shorter urethral length.

Catheter Lengths

Catheter Tips

Catheters can have a straight tip or a coudé tip. The coudé tip or "bent tip" catheter is used when a blockage or stricture is present, making the use of a straight catheter more difficult.

Catheter Tips - Coude and Straight

If you have questions about certain urologic catheter products you've come to the right place. We specialize in intermittent catheter products so you can feel confident you are speaking with a catheter expert to answer all of your questions. Call or fill out this form today.

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Note: Always consult with your physician or other health care provider on what type of catheter is right for you. 

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